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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister

Close the Gate


If the Lord tarries, we are about to close out this year and begin another.  Are you relieved to get through this past year?  Are you looking forward to another year?  Or, are you experiencing some apprehension as you face the New Year?


Dr. Harold J. Sala suggests that “generally, the reason we fear the future is that we have not made peace with the past.  Failures haunt us and we wonder if the future may be but a rerun of yesterday.”  Then in his article entitled “The Year’s End,” he shares this insightful story:


“Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister, was playing golf with a friend on one occasion when they went through a fence.  His partner pushed the gate closed but did not bother to latch it; yet George, seeing the failure, went back and secured the gate.  Then George told of an old doctor friend who lay dying.  After calling his family and friends to his bedside, he gave these parting words, "Close every gate through which you have passed."  Lloyd George went on to say that he owed more to that bit of wisdom than to anything else he had ever heard.” *


“Close every gate.”  That is a bit of good counsel.  We certainly need to “close the gate” on yesterday’s failures.  How do we do that?


It will require two things: God’s forgiveness and our acceptance of it.


Even though we have sinned and continue to fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), God loves us and has provided the Means for our salvation.  “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).  Jesus, God’s Son, died on the cross to pay the price for our redemption from sin.  “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).


God has made the provision for our salvation from sin through the death of His Son.  In order to enjoy the forgiveness of our sins and receive the gift of eternal life, we must accept His offer on His terms.


God will save and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).


Do you want to face the New Year (and the rest of your days, however many that will be) with confidence and assurance?  Then “close the gate” on yesterday’s failures by accepting God’s forgiveness on His terms.  Then, seek to walk in the light of God’s Word knowing that God keeps His promises and that a glorious future awaits the faithful child of God.


-- David A. Sargent


* From “The Year’s End” by Dr. Harold J. Sala in

How do we Explain the Wisdom of the Magi from the East?

Pagan Worship

1 Corinthians 10:20

… what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons.


Wisdom Choices

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart."

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him[e] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."


Magi Worship

Matthew 1:18-2:12

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him." 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: 6 "'And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'"

7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him." 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.


The contrast between the Gentile magi and the Idumean King Herod is striking: The Gentile wise men come – not as pagans offering their sacrifices to demons - but in sincerity to truly worship the God-King, while the opportunist Herod blatantly lies as he prepares a trap for Jesus.


Claiming a heritage among the Jews from as early as the Babylonian captivity provides credibility for a pro-Roman and Hellenized Herod as a King over the Jews, for they were highly contemptuous of him … Josephus explains that Antipater's family converted to Judaism during the forced conversions by the Sadducee-influenced Hasmonean leader John Hyrcanus. Hyrcanus threatened that any Idumaean who wished to maintain their land would need to be circumcised and enter into the traditions of the Jews. Josephus acknowledges Herod as being "by birth a Jew" and Antipater as being "of the same people" with the Jews. Nevertheless, this influential family came to be resented by many Jews for their Edomite ancestry, a fact used by the Hasmoneans and their supporters against them. As such, in a polemic against Herod to discredit him in the eyes of the Romans as unfit to become king of the Jews, Antigonus the Hasmonean is quoted by Josephus as referring to Herod as "no more than a private man, and an

Idumean, i.e. a half Jew". Antipater the Idumaean, Wikipedia


Let's go back and think about Matthew's account of the birth of Jesus and the person of Jesus, and think

about who this Jesus is that the magi from the East have come to worship:


•      Conceived by the Holy Spirit, Jesus is the Son of God.


•      He will save His people from their sins; hence, His name is Jesus, which means God saves.


•      He will be called Immanuel, which means God with us.


•      He is born king of the Jews.


•     He is born in Bethlehem of Judea, in fulfillment of the prophecy of Micah 5:2. (There was another Bethlehem in Galilee to the north.)


•      "A ruler who will shepherd my people Israel."


The chief priests and scribes in Jerusalem knew of the Mican prophecy that the ruler would come forth in Bethlehem, but unlike the Gentile magi from the East, they were not seeking the Messiah in Bethlehem. It appears that the magi were not aware of Micah 5:2, for they came to Jerusalem enquiring where the king of the Jews was to be born.


Isn't it amazing? Unknown Gentiles, from somewhere East of Palestine, are the first to acknowledge both the royalty and the deity of Jesus by visiting Him to worship Him!


Amazing Divine Prophecies

God had said some amazingly relevant things through the psalmist and prophet Isaiah before Jesus was born:


may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts … may gold of Sheba be given to him. Psalm 72:10,15


Isaiah 2:2-3

It shall come to pass in the latter days  that the mountain of the house of the Lord

shall be established as the highest of the mountains,

    and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it,

3  and many peoples shall come, and say:

"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob,

that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths."

For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.


Isaiah 45:14-15

Thus says the Lord:

"The wealth of Egypt and the merchandise of Cush,

    and the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over to you and be yours;

    they shall follow you; they shall come over in chains and bow down to you.

They will plead with you, saying: 'Surely God is in you, and there is no other, no god besides him.'"

15 Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.


The Sabaean people were South Arabian people. Each of these had regional kingdoms in ancient Yemen, with the Minaeans in the north in Wādī al-Jawf, the Sabeans on the south western tip, stretching from the highlands to the sea, the Qatabānians to the east of them and the aramites east of them.

The Sabaeans, like the other Yemenite kingdoms of the same period, were involved in the extremely lucrative spice trade, especially frankincense and myrrh. From "Sabaeans," Wikipedia.


Could the magi have been Sabaeans? Notice Psalm 72:10,15 and Isaiah 60:6.


Isaiah 49:22-23

Thus says the Lord God: "Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations, and raise my signal to the peoples;

and they shall bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.

23 Kings shall be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers.

With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you, and lick the dust of your feet.

Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame."


Isaiah 60:1-16

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

2 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples;

but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.

3 And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.

4 Lift up your eyes all around, and see; they all gather together, they come to you;

your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.

5 Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and exult,

because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you.

6 A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord.

7 All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you; the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you;

they shall come up with acceptance on my altar, and I will beautify my beautiful house.

8 Who are these that fly like a cloud, and like doves to their windows?

9 For the coastlands shall hope for me, the ships of Tarshish first,

to bring your children from afar, their silver and gold with them, for the name of the Lord your God,

    and for the Holy One of Israel, because he has made you beautiful.

10 Foreigners shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister to you;

for in my wrath I struck you, but in my favour I have had mercy on you.

11 Your gates shall be open continually; day and night they shall not be shut,

that people may bring to you the wealth of the nations, with their kings led in procession.

12 For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish;

    those nations shall be utterly laid waste.

13 The glory of Lebanon shall come to you, the cypress, the plane, and the pine,

to beautify the place of my sanctuary, and I will make the place of my feet glorious.

14 The sons of those who afflicted you shall come bending low to you,

and all who despised you shall bow down at your feet;

they shall call you the City of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

15 Whereas you have been forsaken and hated, with no one passing through,

I will make you majestic forever, a joy from age to age.

16 You shall suck the milk of nations; you shall nurse at the breast of kings;

and you shall know that I, the Lord, am your Saviour and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.


Sheba is also known as Saba. It is where the Sabaeans (discussed earlier) came from. The Queen of Sheba had heard of the wisdom of King Solomon, and came to pay homage. 1 Kings 10:1-13. In Isaiah 60:6 above, those from Sheba shall bring gold and frankincense, and the praises of the Lord. The magi brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrhh.


The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you. 12 When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name. And I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 2 Samuel 7:11-13



Is it possible that Solomon told the Queen of Sheba of the Davidic Covenant to be fulfilled in a King on the throne of David forever? Is it then possible that this promise would become treasured knowledge by the Sabaeans when the Queen returned to Sheba? This would have been passed on from generation to generation. Sabaean magi may thus have known of a coming Judean King and, with God helping them to get the timing right, they come to worship Him!!! Yes, one nation in the East may well have passed this wisdom on to other nations.


·     Could Daniel also have encouraged non-Jewish wise men in Babylon to study the prophets, including his own predictions concerning Christ's kingdom, which later, observant wise men would realise comes when Rome ruled the world? Daniel 2:27-49; 9:24-27


·     Could the magi from the East have been aware of these prophecies, with God guiding them in the precise timing?


·     One of the ways Israel was to be a light to the nations, Isaiah 49:6, would be through the Scriptures, such as the prophets as seen above.


·     Out of the mouth of wise men from the East I have prepared praise for Thee!!

Of course, we ask, if this is what happened, why didn't Matthew tell us? Well, does every fact have to be proven?

"Love believes all things"! My thoughts are speculative, but is it not also possible that God has left it all like this to get us to dig deeper to find something that is consistent with the totality of His revelation and love for all nations


David Hunter

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works--Titus 2:14

Thought for the Week


Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works--Titus 2:14


In his letter to Titus, Paul tells us that the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men and that we are to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts as we live our lives soberly, righteously and godly, all the while looking for that great day when the Lord will appear again (vs 11-13). Then in verse 14 Paul says that Christ has redeemed us and purified us, making us a peculiar people zealous of good works. It should thrill our souls just to know that we have been redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ.


Now, being redeemed by him, we do become a peculiar people, namely one who belongs to him and as such there are certain duties incumbent upon us if we are to be pleasing to the Lord (vs 10, 12). One of our foremost duties is to be zealous of good works (vs. 14). What in the world does this mean to you?


Zealous means being intensely earnest; actively enthusiastic; intense ardor in the pursuit of some end. Does this describe your spiritual life? Being zealous involves being a pursuer of good works, being eager to do right and being enthusiastic about doing those things that will be pleasing to our Lord (Matt. 5:16; Matt. 6:33; Matt. 25; 1 Cor. 15:58; Acts 5:29; Rom. 12:1-21; Eph. 4:21-32; Eph. 6:10-18; Phil. 4:8)


If we are truly zealous of good works, then ours will be a commitment to the Lord in which our love, hope and loyalty to the him will become greater each day we live on planet earth. This will require of us daily prayer ((1 Thess.5:17; Phil. 4:6; Heb. 4:160. It will require Bible study (John 5:39; 2  Tim. 2:15; 1 Peter 2:2-5). It will also involve daily cross bearing (Matt. 16:24; 2 Corinthians 4:4). Bottom line is that it will require that we be an example of the believer as we fight the good fight of faith in order to lay hold on eternal life (1 Tim. 4:12; 1 Tim. 6:12).


If we are zealous of good works as commanded, it will make the church attractive to others and it will do wonders for ourselves.


Charles Hicks


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Don and Julie Myers

From the Ashes


One week ago, Brett Petrillo shared some stats from an article on CNN regarding the devastation of the fires that have been raging in California: “California's forests have been severely devastated by the forest fires lately.  In a week's time, they have scorched nearly 160,000 acres and displaced 190,000 people.  As we speak, 5,700 firefighters are diligently working to contain the damage.  Unfortunately, dry air and strong winds are making this especially difficult.”


But, as Petrillo also observed, a tender story has arisen out of the ashes: “Don and Julie Myers are one of the many families who have lost their home to the fires.  After the fire passed, it left little but ash and rubble behind.  The Myers returned home to see what could be salvaged.  Incredibly, as they sifted through the ash, a glimmering object stood out.  It was his wife's long-lost original wedding ring!  Seizing the moment, Don brought the ring over to his wife, dropped to one knee and proposed to her all over again (from”


“It's easy to let difficulty bring us down,” writes Petrillo.  “It takes someone truly special to look past the ashes and see what's valuable and important.  For the Myers, their house was lost but their marriage wasn't.  They still had each other.  They still had a home no matter where their next house will be.”


Life has its hardships.  Jesus said, “In the world, you will have tribulation” (John 16:33).  “It's hard to know what the future holds for us,” says Petrillo.  “Disease.  Cancer.  Financial difficulty.  Loss of a job.  Marriage problems.  Family problems.  Death.”  But here is his challenge: “When the fires of tribulation set our world ablaze, let's try to keep in mind what's truly important.”


So what is truly important?


•           It’s people, not possessions, that have the greatest value in our lives (see Matthew 22:37-39).

•           In the world, we will have tribulation, but in Jesus we can have peace, because He has overcome the world (John 16:33).

•           For Christians, “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

•           For the child of God, “we know that if our earthly house, this tent [our physical body], is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands,

        eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1).


Jesus died on the cross for our sins so that we might have the wonderful treasures of salvation and eternal life.  God will grant these eternal, spiritual treasures to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).


Even in the ashes – and one day that’s all this world will be (2 Peter 3:10) – there are treasures still.  These treasures are found in Christ.


Won’t YOU trust and obey Jesus so that you can enjoy the greater, spiritual, and eternal blessings that God desires for you?


-- David A. Sargent


* From Brett Petrillo, “Treasure in the Ashes,” in Daily Bread (12/8/17), an e-mail ministry of the Bear Valley Church of Christ in Denver, CO.


David A. Sargent

Tuesday, December 12, 2017






A.  Basic morality and Christian living.

1.  Col 3:5-9 - We must put off the old man with his deeds.

a. We must ‘mortify’ (kill) these ‘members, which are upon the earth.’

b. These things bring about Gods wrath.

c. We once walked and lived in these things.

2.  Col 3:10-14 - We must put on the new man.

a. The new man is after the image of the Lord.

b. These are all parts of the love of God, the divine nature.

B.  How to treat others.

1.  Matt 7:12 - The “Golden Rule”: do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.

2.  James 1:19 - Be “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”

3.  Php 2:1-8 - Put on the mind of Christ.

a.   Humility of mind: let each esteem others better than themselves.

b.   Look not on your own things, but on the things of others.

c.   Christ humbled himself, served others, and was obedient to God to the point of dying on the cross.

4.  Pr 15:1 - A soft answer turns away anger.

5.  James 3:2-12; Eph. 4:29 - Bridle the tongue, and speak only good things.



A.  Col. 3:22-24 - Obey in all things your earthly masters.

1.   This should not be done with eyeservice; God sees us all the time.

2.   We should work heartily to serve the Lord, not men, and the Lord will give an eternal reward for this.

B.  1 Tim 6:1 - Not obeying our bosses can cause the name of God and his doctrine to be blasphemed.

C.  1 Pet 2:18-21 - This must be done even towards “froward masters,” as this is following the steps of Christ.



A.  Wives.

1.  Col 3:18 - Obey your husbands as it is fit in the Lord.

2.  Eph. 5:22-24 - What is “fit” is for wives to be subject to their husbands “in every thing” as the church is to Christ (the only exception would be if he commanded her to disobey God, Acts 5:29).

a.   The husband’s authority is in matters of judgment.

b.   Submitting only when you agree with him or think he knows what he’s talking about is not submission.

3.  1 Cor 11:5 - A woman merely having short hair is a dishonor to her husband.  How serious then are words and deeds towards him?

4.  Prov. 12:4 - “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that makes ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.”

B.  Husbands.

1.   Col 3:19 - Love your wives and be not bitter against them.  (It will take them time to grow in submitting.)

2.   Eph 5:25-28 - Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it and love their wives as their own bodies.

a.   Putting yourself, your work, or anything else ahead of her is not consistent with this.

b.   The goal is to help the wife to grow to be holy and without blemish (spiritually).

c.   This love requires time, attention and a sincere concern for her physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.

3.   Jas 3:17 - The wisdom that is from above is gentle, peaceable, and easy to be entreated.

4.   Gen 21:12 - God told Abraham to listen to his wife.  Changing your mind is not a sign of weakness.

C.  Parents and children.

1.  Children.

a.   Col 3:20 - “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.”

b.   Eph. 6:1- Obeying parents lasts for a few years; honoring them lasts a lifetime (1 Tim 5:4,8,16).

2.  Fathers - Train your children; don’t discourage them.

a.   Col 3:21 - “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.”

b.   Eph. 6:4 - “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

1)  God puts the responsibility on the fathers for how the children are raised.

2)  Fathers need to be involved in the rearing of their children.

a.   Prov. 22:6 - Providing for them physically is important, but the main job is to train them.

3.  Mothers.

a.  Proverbs 22:6 applies to mothers too.

b.  Titus 2:4-5 - Love your children, be keepers at home.

1)  Mothers have to learn to have Gods love towards their children: this means train them right.

2)  “Keepers at home” literally means, “house guard”; not just guarding their bodies, but most importantly, their souls (Study Proverbs 31:10-31 in depth).

c.  1 Tim. 5:14 - Mothers are to literally be the “house despots.”

1)  Prov. 6:20 - There should be one law (one set of rules) in the house, which flows from the father, through the mother, and to the children.

2)  This requires much advance planning, discussion and praying by husbands and wives.

3)  The mother is the enforcer of the family laws while the head of the house is away.

d.  Prov. 29:15 - Mothers who leave their children to themselves will be brought to shame.

4.  Marriages.

a.   2 Cor. 6:14-18; 2 Tim. 2:2 - One of the most important decisions a person will ever make is who they marry.  Christians should always and only marry faithful Christians.

b.   Both parents and children most do their part to ensure that this is what happens.

c.   Some sobering statistics, based on a study of two churches of Christ in America.

d.   The Church of Christ, B Street, Miami, Oklahoma (1957-1977).

                                     i.    In these years, only 45% of the marriages (64 out of 143) were Christian to Christian.

                                   ii.    Is it any wonder why the church has been growing so weak during these years?

                                  iii.    When Christians married non-Christians, 79% of Christians left the faith, and 32% divorced.

                                  iv.    When Christians married Christians, 92% remained faithful, and only 3% divorced.

e.   Bridges Street Church of Christ, Wynne, Arkansas (1962-1981).

                                     i.    In these years, only 27% of the marriages (28 out of 104) were between Christians.

                                   ii.    When Christians married non-Christians, 80% of Christians left the faith, and 30% divorced.

                                  iii.    When Christians married Christians, 86% remained faithful, and 14% divorced.

f.    Overall, 63% of marriages in the two congregations were Christian to non-Christian; of these, 76% of Christians became unfaithful, and 31% divorced.  In Christian-to-Christian marriages, 90% remained faithful, and only 6.5% divorced.

b.   Statistics aren’t the reason we should do anything, but they certainly demonstrate Gods wisdom.



--John Macon

Saturday, December 9, 2017

My Michelle

In the Words of a Song


There are many ways that a husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather can express his love for his family.  One way that Willie Dowling did it was in song.


Willie loved to sing.  His family will always remember his beautiful baritone voice.  Years ago, as his family would travel along long stretches of highway where the radio signal was weak, the Dowling family would pass the time singing, with Willie taking the lead.


Willie’s family will remember many of the songs that he liked to sing.  Some of the songs were selected by Willie to express his love in a unique way to certain family members.  For example, he would sing “Elizabeth” to his granddaughter, Meggan Elizabeth: “Dressed in dreams for me, you were what I wished to see, Elizabeth” (as sung by Frank Sinatra, one of Willie’s favorites).  He would sing “My Michelle” to his other granddaughter, Jamie Michelle: “Michelle, ma belle, These are words that go together well, My Michelle…  I love you, I love you, I love you, That’s all I want to say” (from “Michelle” by the Beatles). 


Another fun song that Willie would often sing to family members contained these words:


I think I'll eat a tadpole think I'll eat a bug

I've got some worms down in the garden just recently dug

You said you didn't love me you told me we were through

So honey that's the reason this is what I'm gonna do

I'll eat a big ole tadpole run away and hide

And you'd be sorry oh so sorry if I stayed away and died

So if you really love me just tell me with a hug

Before I eat a tadpole or a bug

-- as sung by Sue Thompson, released in 1966


My guess is that Willie received many hugs after singing this song!


One way that Willie’s family members will know that he loved them dearly is by the songs that he would sing to them.  The songs communicated: “you are special to me.”


Consider the words of another song that communicate the love of Christ for YOU and me:


Crucified, Laid behind the stone

You lived to die, Rejected and alone

Like a rose trampled on the ground

You took the fall, And thought of me,

Above all

-- From “Above All” by Michael W. Smith


The words of this song express how much Christ loves us.  “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8.  As Jesus was dying on the cross for our sins, He was thinking of YOU and me and how His blood can wash away our sins so that we can be saved and live eternally with Him in heaven.


God will save and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).


As the song states, Jesus took the fall, and thought of YOU, above all.  Won’t YOU respond to His great love through your trusting obedience?


-- David A. Sargent


* In loving memory of Willie Woodrow Dowling, June 15, 1935 – December 1, 2017, in grateful appreciation for his faith and love.


Friday, December 8, 2017

You'll Find What You're Looking For

The world is filled with good things and bad things. What your life will become is based on what you are looking for. Buzzards consistently find dead carcasses and hummingbirds always find beautiful flowers. That’s what they look for. They’re happy when they find what they’re looking for.

But how different the life of the buzzard from the life of the hummingbird. Who wants to be anywhere near the buzzard? . . . but we go to great lengths to attract the hummingbird. I don’t know anyone who has a buzzard feeder in their backyard.

Some people are like buzzards. They are the happiest when they are fussing and fighting over the dead carcass of someone’s misfortune. They want to be the first one there to be able to spread the news. So, they always keep a sharp eye out for weaknesses in others. They live on garbage.

And then there’s the hummingbirds in life. They make you smile. Just seeing one makes you feel happier. They appreciate the beauty in the world. They ignore the trash and rottenness. It’s there, but they are not attracted to it. Just like the buzzards aren’t attracted to flowers. Both birds live in the same world – but they are looking for radically different things.

Our life is shaped by what we’re looking for. We find what we’re looking for. The course of our life is shaped by what we’re attracted to – because that’s where we hang out.  That’s where our heart is.

You can focus on what you don’t have and all the problems in life and fill your life with anger, jealousy and hatred – there’s plenty of garbage out there to feed on; or you can search for the flowers. You’ll find what you’re looking for.

Ken Stegall

Monday, December 4, 2017

Boston Children's Hospital

He Didn't Have To


Sloan St. James’ parents knew something was wrong with their little girl when she was about 4 months old.  Her jaundice wasn’t going away and her stomach was swelling.


A trip to Boston Children’s Hospital and a two-week stay revealed a dire diagnosis of biliary atresia, a disease of the bile ducts that affects only infants.  According to the American Liver Foundation, in biliary atresia, the bile ducts become inflamed and blocked soon after birth.  This causes bile to remain in the liver, where it starts to destroy liver cells rapidly and cause cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver.  Without successful treatment, few children with biliary atresia live beyond age two.


Little Sloan desperately needed a liver transplant to live.


A police officer in Keene, New Hampshire, Lt. Steven Tenney, learned of Sloan’s need when his brother saw posts on Facebook about a classmate’s 4-month-old daughter who had been diagnosed with stage four liver failure and needed a life-saving transplant.


Tenney signed up to get tested to see if he could be a donor.  He was elated to discover he was a match.  The family was notified and plans were made for the transplant surgeries.


“We had so many people praying for us and for Sloan, and to hear that we had a match and that surgery was going to happen in a couple days was a miracle,” St. James told Boston 25 News.


Sloan received about 19 percent of Tenney’s liver.  Two months after the surgeries, both are doing well.  See the link below for a picture of a recent reunion of the pair.


So why did a complete stranger respond to the needs of a little girl?  “If you can help a 4-month-old baby, you kind of have to do it,” Tenney told The News Outlet. *


No, Lt. Tenney, you didn’t have to; you wanted to, and thank you for doing it!


When you and I were lost in sin and destined for eternal destruction, Jesus died on the cross for us so that we can be forgiven of our sins and receive the gift of eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Ephesians 1:7).


Although it was the will of the Heavenly Father for His Son Jesus to die for us, Jesus didn’t have to do it.  He willingly laid down His life for us because of His love for us.


Jesus said, “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.  No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself.  I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.  This command I have received from My Father.” – John 10:17-18


Jesus didn’t have to do it; He wanted to, and it was the only way to save mankind.


In order to receive the eternal benefits of His atoning sacrifice, we must place our faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  Then, as we continue to walk in the light of His Word, His blood that He shed in His death, will continue to cleanse us from all sin (1 John 1:7).


Won’t YOU accept His glorious offer on His terms?  He is your only means of salvation!  And He died for you because He wanted to.


-- David A. Sargent


* From “Massachusetts baby gets life-saving liver transplant from New Hampshire police officer” in Fox News,


David A. Sargent, Minister


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Calvinistic concept of the predestination of men


The Calvinistic concept of the predestination of men - apart from their will and choice - issues from the false assumption that men are "born in sin" having inherited the original sin of Adam, and, "being wholly inclined to evil," with no good in them, such a condition required an "unconditional election" on the part of God. This election limited the atonement of Christ to the "elect", who are saved by the "irresistible grace of God," and will therefore, never be able to forfeit their right to eternal life. On the other hand, all who are not of the "elect" are completely shut off from the grace of God which He has extended to all men through Christ, and are eternally consigned to damnation and separation from God in the world to come. This doctrine stands opposed to New Testament teaching on at least 5 points:

1. It makes God a respecter of persons in that He has predestinated some to eternal life and others to eternal damnation: this is contrary to the very nature of God (Romans 2:11; Deuteronomy 32:4).

2. It makes God responsible for the loss of souls in hell; but the New Testament teaches that He is not "willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). He "would have all men to be saved" (1 Timothy 2:4).

3. It destroys man's power of choice. If my destiny is already sealed, there is nothing I can do to change it; I have no choice open to me, and my will cannot be exercised in any way whatever. However, the Bible says, "Choose I you this day I whom ye will serve" (Joshua 24:15), and the "Spirit and the bride say, Come . . . and whosoever WILL, let him take the water of life freely" (Revelation 22:17). Jesus said, "If any man WILL" (John 17:17).

4. It nullifies the commission of Christ (Mark 16:15-16). If one's eternal destiny has already been determined by the Father, why preach to him?

5. The whole system makes man an irresponsible being. If man is born in sin, if he is a sinner by birth, he is not responsible for those transgressions.   But man does not inherit sin -- he commits it (Ezekiel 18:1-24). This passage also teaches that man does not inherit righteousness; he does it.

- by Kelly Ellis


Friday, November 24, 2017


Difficult Bible Words that Teach Something Important: Paidagōgos, Guide


So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian Galatians 3:24-25


How do we translate that word used in Galatians 3:24-25? In the Greek and Roman world, the paidagōgos was a

slave employed to guide a child in their school years. "Guide", "guardian," "child-conductor," and "tutor to lead"

are renderings. Moffatt paraphrased as "held us wards in discipline." William Barclay explained it as: "the servant

who brought us to the door of the school of Christ." The Law's purpose was to bring the fledgling Israel to Jesus

Christ, who would teach them how to be saved by believing in Him. To be saved from sins, the world needs Jesus Christ to first learn from and then believe in. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." Romans 10:17. See John 6:45 and Matthew 28:18-20.


The idea in paidagōgos is that, since children are immature, vulnerable, naïve and foolish, they need someone to guide them. This was the role of the guardian with the child, and thus the Law with Israel. The Law brought the knowledge of sin, Romans 3:20, and disciplined Israel to live right until Jesus came.


But the problem with the Law was its inability to atone for the sins it highlighted. What do you do when sins are committed? The Law tells us what is sinful - what to avoid - but it can't forgive the breaking of law. (The policeman uses the law of speeding to issue tickets; it's not his role to forgive speeding drivers.) Hence the need for Christ. Now that Christ has come, Israel and the world can believe in Him and have their sins forgiven. Romans 3:21-26. The Law of Moses has served its purpose guiding Israel's childhood. As John said: "The Law was given through Moses. Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." John 1:17. The law, because it highlighted sin, cried out for a Saviour, and within its pages were predictions of that coming Saviour. It was a guide leading sinners to Christ.


The paidagōgos would take the child to school, drop him off, and return after school to take the child home. As William Barclay paraphrased it in his version of the New Testament, "the law is the servant who brought us to the door of the school of Christ." "The law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian." Galatians 3:24-25


Christ is now our law-giver, our teacher, our advocate, our intercessor, our grace and sacrifice for forgiveness. While the law had sacrifices that resulted in God forgiving sin (see Leviticus 4; 16; 17:11; Psalm 32), such forgiveness was based on the fact that a servant would arise to be the ultimate, once-for-all sacrifice for sin, fulfilling all those Old Testament laws. Isaiah 53; Matthew 5:17-20; Romans 3:25; 8:1-3; Galatians 3; 1 Timothy 1:8-17; Hebrews 7-10. Keeping the 10 Commandments is a noble ideal, but it won't save you. Trusting in Jesus as Lord will save you. Such is the message of Galatians, from where paidagōgos comes; it is also the message Jesus tried to get Jews in His day to understand.    "The just will live by faith in Jesus Christ." But as Romans 10:16 quotes, "Who has believed our report?" Romans 9-11 details how "all Israel are not all the physical descendants of Abraham, but all Israel are those who shall be saved through faith." Belief in Jesus brings justification by faith.


So all who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith … Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith … Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. 25 And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.

26 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God's promise to Abraham belongs to you. Galatians 3:9,14,24-29, NLT


Our elders, preachers and teachers in our churches continue to teach us so that we can all learn more about how to mature to be like Christ:

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won't be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. Ephesians 4:11-16


Can we now see why Jesus said in essence "bring me a child and I will show you that unless you are converted and become as children, you will not inherit the kingdom of God?"

·       The humility of a child. The faith of a child. Jesus is the guide to everyone who has the heart of a child.

·       "The law is the servant who brought us to the door of the school of Christ." (William Barclay)

·       Christ is God's servant who will take us children to the door of heaven, provided our hand is in His hand.

·       Put your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee.

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God's way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly

prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:8-14


David Hunter


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